The Super Bowl represents the culmination of a storied or sorrowful season. Fans cheer on their beloved team, or pick a new allegiance in their squad’s stead. However, there are those who might prefer to forget the season still rages on. Whether your team didn’t make the Super Bowl (or even playoffs), you’d rather watch a movie than a sporting event, or you’re a die-hard football fanatic in need of a sports fix, here are the top football flicks to watch instead of the Super Bowl.

“The Blind Side” (2009)

The_Blind_SideMichael Oher blossomed into a pro-football star with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Carolina Panthers. Oher will play in Super Bowl 50, as the Panthers take on the Denver Broncos. His upbringing was captured in the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and subsequently brought to the big screen in “The Blind Side,” written and directed by John Lee Hanock. Growing up, Oher hailed from an underprivileged household, and was eventually adopted by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy. A strong cast, led by Quinton Aaron as Oher, Sandra Bullock, and Tim McGraw as the Tuohy, and Kathy Bates as Sue Mitchell, a teacher who tutored Oher. Actual collegiate coaches including then LSU coach Nick Saban, then South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, and then Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville feature prominent appearances.

“Necessary Roughness” (1991)

Necessary_roughness_posterWith NCAA sanctions much more prevalent across all collegiate sports, “Necessary Roughness” is a rather pertinent film. The comedic football flick headlines Scott Bakula as Paul Blake, a former high school star quarterback who skipped university to pursue agriculture. When the fictional Texas State University football squad is almost entirely dismissed due to NCAA violations, Blake is recruited by the new football coach, Ed “Straight Arrow Gennero (Hector Elizondo). The cast is ridiculously talented, with appearances by Rob Schneider, Larry Miller, Sinbad, Jason Bateman, and Kathy Ireland. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy, but “Necessary Roughness” is absolutely uproarious.

“The Longest Yard” (1974)

The_Longest_YardThe Longest Yard” offers a neat premise: convicts and guards literally butting heads in a football match. It all begins when Paul “Wrecking” Crewe (Burt Reynolds), pro football star, crashes his girlfriend’s Citroen SM, landing him in jail on an 18 month sentence. The maniacal warden, Rudolph Hazen (Eddie Albert), coincidentally is a huge football fan, with a team of semi-pro football players who happen to be the prison guards. Comedic, and lasting, “The Longest Yard” inspired a few remakes, including 2001’s “Mean Machine,” which opted for soccer football, rather than American Football, and 2005’s “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler in the lead, and Burt Reynolds in a great supporting role.

“Brian’s Song” (1971)

Back in the day when network television stations hosted made-for-TV movies on a regular basis, and before Brians_Songinternet streaming services took hold, ABC aired “Brian’s Song.” This based on a true story flick chronicles Wake Forest football player Brian Piccolo’s (James Caan) struggle with cancer while playing for the Chicago Bears. Notably, “Brian’s Song” focuses on Piccolo’s companionship with fellow pro-footballer Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams, before his most famous role as Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars”). It’s heartwarming, and sure to hit you in the gut harder than a lineman. A 2001 remake followed, also on ABC, aired with Mekhi Phifer as Sayers and Sean Maher playing Piccolo.

“Little Giants” (1994)

Little_GiantsThis much-loved 1994 sports-comedy stars Ed O’Neill and Rick Moranis as coaches of pee-wee league football teams. Apparently “Little Giants,” derives from a McDonald’s Super Bowl ad from 1992. Bob Shallcross and Jim Ferguson cooked up a commercial that inspired Steven Spielberg to call up Ferguson, explaining “I want that commercial made into a movie.” Well, that little Super Bowl ad got supersized, and the result is a hilarious, touching film. There are cameos by actual NFL legends, including the likes of John Madden and Emmitt Smith, and a play named “The Annexation of Puerto Rico.”

“Invincible” (2006)

The based-on-a-true-story model works particularly well in the historical drama and sports department, andInvincible 2006’s “Invincible” draws its motivation from the real-life Vince Papale. In 1976, Papale (portrayed by Mark Whalberg) joined the Philadelphia Eagles, and ”Invincible” details his narrative. The material feels heavily influenced by “Rocky,” an unavoidable comparison considering the home city of Philly. As with many “inspired-by-true-events” works, “Invincible” strays from the historical account a bit, but it’s nonetheless enjoyable and encouraging, while presenting a lens for the poverty of 1970’s Philadelphia.

“Remember the Titans” (2000)

Remember_the_TitansBoaz Yakin-directed “Remember the Titans” takes place in 1971, at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia. The then-recently desegregated school sees Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), become the school’s first African-American head coach, and from the get-go there’s plentiful racial tension. “Remember the Titans” uses football as a means to relay a civil rights narrative, and both the historical drama and sports aspects gel wonderfully.

“Rudy” (1993)

David Anspaugh-directed “Rudy” is the “Rocky” of football movies. Focusing on Notre Dame football player RudyDaniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, it’s one of the sports genre’s most heralded films. It’s truly inspirational, with a talented roster of Sean Astin as the titular Rudy, Jon Favreau as D-Bob, Lili Taylor playing Sherry, and Vince Vaughn portraying Jamie O’Hare. By the end, you too will be chanting “Rudy!” “Rudy!” “Rudy!”

“Draft Day” (2014)

Draft_Day2014’s “Draft Day” features Kevin Costner as Cleveland Browns General Manager Sonny Weaver. The plot may be a bit predictable, but Ivan Reitman’s direction, and a strong cast spearheaded by veterans Costner and Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, and Frank Langella make this a fascinating behind-the-scenes exploration of the NFL Draft. Sure, Disney’s “Draft Day” may be fictional, but it evokes the feel of an ESPN 30 For 30 on the draft. A slew of cameos by NFL legends, like Roger Goodell, Jon Gruden, Chris “Boomer” Berman, and Ray Lewis lend “Draft Day” a pleasant sense of authenticity.

“Jerry Maguire” (1996)

Jerry Maguire” is unique in its concentration not on the football player, Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver RodJerry_Maguire Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), but on the sports agent, Maguire (Tom Cruise). It’s a romantic comedy-sports flick combo, which sounds like a ploy to dupe couples into attending, but ultimately it’s a delightful romp. Largely, stellar performances by Cruise, Gooding Jr., and Renee Zellweger, along with a bevy of cameos from NFL players and coaches such as Jeffry Lurie, Troy Aikman, and Warren Moon, make “Jerry Maguire,” a straight up classic. Plus, even those who haven’t seen the film know the iconic “show me the money” line, testament to the movie’s pop culture prowess.

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